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The Phantom World - or, The philosophy of spirits, apparitions, &c, &c.
by Augustin Calmet
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Footnotes:

[472] V. Moreri on the word stryges.



CHAPTER XIV.

CONJECTURES OF THE "GLANEUR DE HOLLANDE," DUTCH GLEANER, IN 1733.—NO. IX.

The Dutch Gleaner, who is by no means credulous, supposes the truth of these facts as certain, having no good reason for disputing them, and reasons upon them in a way which shows he thinks lightly of the matter; he asserts that the people, amongst whom vampires are seen, are very ignorant and very credulous, so that the apparitions we are speaking of are only the effects of a prejudiced fancy. The whole is occasioned and augmented by the bad nourishment of these people, who, the greater part of their time, eat only bread made of oats, roots, and the bark of trees—aliments which can only engender gross blood, which is consequently much disposed to corruption, and produces dark and bad ideas in the imagination.

He compares this disease to the bite of a mad dog, which communicates its venom to the person who is bitten; thus, those who are infected by vampirism communicate this dangerous poison to those with whom they associate. Thence the wakefulness, dreams, and pretended apparitions of vampires.

He conjectures that this poison is nothing else than a worm, which feeds upon the purest substance of man, constantly gnaws his heart, makes the body die away, and does not forsake it even in the depth of the grave. It is certain that the bodies of those who have been poisoned, or who die of contagion, do not become stiff after their death, because the blood does not congeal in the veins; on the contrary, it rarifies and bubbles much the same as in vampires, whose beard, hair, and nails grow, whose skin is rosy, who appear to have grown fat, on account of the blood which swells and abounds in them everywhere.

As to the cry uttered by the vampires when the stake is driven through their heart, nothing is more natural; the air which is there confined, and thus expelled with violence, necessarily produces that noise in passing through the throat. Dead bodies often do as much without being touched. He concludes that it is only an imagination that is deranged by melancholy or superstition, which can fancy that the malady we have just spoken of can be produced by vampire corpses, which come and suck away, even to the last drop, all the blood in the body.

A little before, he says that in 1732 they discovered again some vampires in Hungary, Moravia, and Turkish Servia; that this phenomenon is too well averred for it to be doubted; that several German physicians have composed pretty thick volumes in Latin and German on this matter; that the Germanic Academies and Universities still resound with the names of Arnald Paul, of Stanoska, daughter of Sovitzo, and of the Heyducq Millo, all famous vampires of the quarter of Medreiga, in Hungary.

Here is a letter which has been written to one of my friends, to be communicated to me; it is on the subject of the ghosts of Hungary;[473] the writer thinks very differently from the Gleaner on the subject of vampires.

"In reply to the questions of the Abbe dom Calmet concerning vampires, the undersigned has the honor to assure him that nothing is more true or more certain than what he will doubtless have read about it in the deeds or attestations which have been made public, and printed in all the Gazettes in Europe. But amongst all these public attestations which have appeared, the Abbe must fix his attention as a true and notorious fact on that of the deputation from Belgrade, ordered by his late Majesty Charles VI., of glorious memory, and executed by his Serene Highness the late Duke Charles Alexander of Wirtemberg, then Viceroy or Governor of the kingdom of Servia; but I cannot at present cite the year or the day, for want of papers which I have not now by me.

"That prince sent off a deputation from Belgrade, half consisting of military officers and half of civil, with the auditor-general of the kingdom, to go to a village where a famous vampire, several years deceased, was making great havoc amongst his kin; for note well, that it is only in their family and amongst their own relations that these blood-suckers delight in destroying our species. This deputation was composed of men and persons well known for their morality and even their information, of irreproachable character; and there were even some learned men amongst the two orders: they were put to the oath, and accompanied by a lieutenant of the grenadiers of the regiment of Prince Alexander of Wirtemberg, and by twenty-four grenadiers of the said regiment.

"All that were most respectable, and the duke himself, who was then at Belgrade, joined this deputation in order to be ocular spectators of the veracious proof about to be made.

"When they arrived at the place, they found that in the space of a fortnight the vampire, uncle of five persons, nephews and nieces, had already dispatched three of them and one of his own brothers. He had begun with his fifth victim, the beautiful young daughter of his niece, and had already sucked her twice, when a stop was put to this sad tragedy by the following operations.

"They repaired with the deputed commissaries to a village not far from Belgrade, and that publicly, at night-fall, and went to the vampire's grave. The gentleman could not tell me the time when those who had died had been sucked, nor the particulars of the subject. The persons whose blood had been sucked found themselves in a pitiable state of languor, weakness, and lassitude, so violent is the torment. He had been interred three years, and they saw on this grave a light resembling that of a lamp, but not so bright.

"They opened the grave, and found there a man as whole and apparently as sound as any of us who were present; his hair, and the hairs on his body, the nails, teeth, and eyes as firmly fast as they now are in ourselves who exist, and his heart palpitating.

"Next they proceeded to draw him out of his grave, the body in truth not being flexible, but wanting neither flesh nor bone; then they pierced his heart with a sort of round, pointed, iron lance; there came out a whitish and fluid matter mixed with blood, but the blood prevailing more than the matter, and all without any bad smell. After that they cut off his head with a hatchet, like what is used in England at executions; there came out also a matter and blood like what I have just described, but more abundantly in proportion to what had flowed from the heart.

"And after all this they threw him back again into his grave, with quicklime to consume him promptly; and thenceforth his niece, who had been twice sucked, grew better. At the place where these persons are sucked a very blue spot is formed; the part whence the blood is drawn is not determinate, sometimes it is in one place and sometimes in another. It is a notorious fact, attested by the most authentic documents, and passed or executed in sight of more than 1,300 persons, all worthy of belief.

"But I reserve, to satisfy more fully the curiosity of the learned Abbe dom Calmet, the pleasure of detailing to him more at length what I have seen with my own eyes on this subject, and will give it to the Chevalier de St. Urbain to send to him; too glad in that, as in everything else, to find an occasion of proving to him that no one is with such perfect veneration and respect as his very humble, and very obedient servant, L. de Beloz, ci-devant Captain in the regiment of his Serene Highness the late Prince Alexander of Wirtemberg, and his Aid-de-Camp, and at this time first Captain of grenadiers in the regiment of Monsieur the Baron Trenck."

Footnotes:

[473] There is reason to believe that this is only a repetition of what has already been said in Chapter X.



CHAPTER XV.

ANOTHER LETTER ON GHOSTS.

In order to omit nothing which can throw light on this matter, I shall insert here the letter of a very honest man, who is well informed respecting ghosts. This letter was written to a relation.

"You wish, my dear cousin, to be exactly informed of what takes place in Hungary concerning ghosts who cause the death of many people in that country. I can write to you learnedly upon it, for I have been several years in those quarters, and I am naturally curious. I have heard in my lifetime an infinite number of stories, true, or pretended to be such, concerning spirits and sorceries, but out of a thousand I have hardly believed a single one. We cannot be too circumspect on this point without running the risk of being duped. Nevertheless, there are certain facts so well attested that one cannot help believing them. As to the ghosts of Hungary, the thing takes place in this manner: A person finds himself attacked with languor, loses his appetite, grows visibly thinner, and, at the end of eight or ten days, sometimes a fortnight, dies, without fever, or any other symptom than thinness and drying up of the blood.

"They say in that country that it is a ghost which attaches itself to such a person and sucks his blood. Of those who are attacked by this malady the greater part think they see a white spectre which follows them everywhere as the shadow follows the body. When we were quartered among the Wallachians, in the ban of Temeswar, two horsemen of the company in which I was cornet, died of this malady, and several others, who also were attacked by it, would have died in the same manner, if a corporal of our company had not put a stop to the disorder by employing the remedy used by the people of the country in such case. It is very remarkable, and although infallible, I never read it in any ritual. This is it:—

"They choose a boy young enough to be certain that he is innocent of any impurity; they place him on an unmutilated horse, which has never stumbled, and is absolutely black. They make him ride about the cemetery and pass over all the graves; that over which the animal refuses to pass, in spite of repeated blows from a switch that is delivered to his rider, is reputed to be filled by a vampire. They open this grave, and find therein a corpse as fat and handsome as if he were a man happily and quietly sleeping. They cut the throat of this corpse with the stroke of a spade, and there flows forth the finest vermilion blood in a great quantity. One might swear that it was a healthy living man whose throat they were cutting. That done, they fill up the grave, and we may reckon that the malady will cease, and that all those who had been attacked by it will recover their strength by degrees, like people recovering from a long illness, and who have been greatly extenuated. That happened precisely to our horsemen who had been seized with it. I was then commandant of the company, my captain and my lieutenant being absent. I was piqued at that corporal's having made the experiment without me, and I had all the trouble in the world to resist the inclination I felt to give him a severe caning—a merchandize which is very cheap in the emperor's troops. I would have given the world to be present at this operation; but I was obliged to make myself contented as it was."

A relation of this same officer has written me word, the 17th of October, 1746, that his brother, who has served during twenty years in Hungary, and has very curiously examined into everything which is said there concerning ghosts, acknowledges that the people of that country are more credulous and superstitious than other nations, and they attribute the maladies which happen to them to spells. That as soon as they suspect a dead person of having sent them this illness, they inform the magistrate of it, who, on the deposition of some witnesses, causes the dead body to be exhumed. They cut off the head with a spade, and if a drop of blood comes from it, they conclude that it is the blood which he has sucked from the sick person. But the person who writes appears to me very far from believing what is thought of these things in that country.

At Warsaw, a priest having ordered a saddler to make him a bridle for his horse, died before the bridle was made, and as he was one of those whom they call vampires in Poland, he came out of his grave dressed as the ecclesiastics usually are when inhumed, took his horse from the stable, mounted it, and went in the sight of all Warsaw to the saddler's shop, where at first he found only the saddler's wife, who was frightened, and called her husband; he came, and the priest having asked for his bridle, he replied, "But you are dead, Mr. Cure." To which he answered, "I am going to show you I am not," and at the same time struck him so hard that the poor saddler died a few days after, and the priest returned to his grave.

The steward of Count Simon Labienski, starost of Posnania, being dead, the Countess Dowager de Labienski wished, from gratitude for his services, to have him inhumed in the vault of the lords of that family. This was done; and some time after, the sexton, who had the care of the vault, perceived that there was some derangement in the place, and gave notice of it to the , who desired, according to the received custom in Poland, that the steward's head might be cut off, which was done in the presence of several persons, and amongst others of the Sieur Jouvinski, a Polish officer, and governor of the young Count Simon Labienski, who saw that when the sexton took this corpse out of his tomb to cut off his head, he ground his teeth, and the blood came from him as fluidly as that of a person who died a violent death, which caused the hair of all those who were present to stand on end; and they dipped a white pocket-handkerchief in the blood of this corpse, and made all the family drink some of the blood, that they might not be tormented.



CHAPTER XVI.

PRETENDED VESTIGES OF VAMPIRISM IN ANTIQUITY.

Some learned men have thought they discovered some vestiges of vampirism in the remotest antiquity; but all that they say of it does not come near what is related of the vampires. The lamiae, the strigae, the sorcerers whom they accused of sucking the blood of living persons, and of thus causing their death, the magicians who were said to cause the death of new-born children by charms and malignant spells, are nothing less than what we understand by the name of vampires; even were it to be owned that these lamiae and strigae have really existed, which we do not believe can ever be well proved.

I own that these terms are found in the versions of Holy Scripture. For instance, Isaiah, describing the condition to which Babylon was to be reduced after her ruin, says that she shall become the abode of satyrs, lamiae, and strigae (in Hebrew, lilith). This last term, according to the Hebrews, signifies the same thing, as the Greeks express by strix and lamiae, which are sorceresses or magicians, who seek to put to death new-born children. Whence it comes that the Jews are accustomed to write in the four corners of the chamber of a woman just delivered, "Adam, Eve, begone from hence lilith."

The ancient Greeks knew these dangerous sorceresses by the name of lamiae, and they believed that they devoured children, or sucked away all their blood till they died.[474]

The Seventy, in Isaiah, translate the Hebrew lilith by lamia. Euripides and the Scholiast of Aristophanes also make mention of it as a fatal monster, the enemy of mortals. Ovid, speaking of the strigae, describes them as dangerous birds, which fly by night, and seek for infants to devour them and nourish themselves with their blood.[475]

These prejudices had taken such deep root in the minds of the barbarous people that they put to death persons suspected of being strigae, or sorceresses, and of eating people alive. Charlemagne, in his Capitularies, which he composed for his new subjects,[476] the Saxons, condemns to death those who shall believe that a man or a woman are sorcerers (striges esse) and eat living men. He condemns in the same manner those who shall have them burnt, or give their flesh to be eaten, or shall eat of it themselves.

Wherein it may be remarked, first of all, that they believed there were people who ate men alive; that they killed and burnt them; that sometimes their flesh was eaten, as we have seen that in Russia they eat bread kneaded with the blood of vampires; and that formerly their corpses were exposed to wild beasts, as is still done in countries where these ghosts are found, after having impaled them, or cut off their head.

The laws of the Lombards, in the same way, forbid that the servant of another person should be put to death as a witch, strix, or masca. This last word, masca, whence mask, has the same signification as the Latin larva, a spirit, a phantom, a spectre.

We may class in the number of ghosts the one spoken of in the Chronicle of Sigibert, in the year 858.

Theodore de Gaza[477] had a little farm in Campania, which he had cultivated by a laborer. As he was busy digging up the ground, he discovered a round vase, in which were the ashes of a dead man; directly, a spectre appeared to him, who commanded him to put this vase back again in the ground, with what it contained, or if he did not do so he would kill his eldest son. The laborer gave no heed to these threats, and in a few days his eldest son was found dead in his bed. A little time after, the same spectre appeared to him again, reiterating the same order, and threatening to kill his second son. The laborer gave notice of all this to his master, Theodore de Gaza, who came himself to his farm, and had everything put back into its place. This spectre was apparently a demon, or the spirit of a pagan interred in that spot.

Michael Glycas[478] relates that the emperor Basilius, having lost his beloved son, obtained by means of a black monk of Santabaren, power to behold his said son, who had died a little while before; he saw him, and held him embraced a pretty long time, until he vanished away in his arms. It was, then, only a phantom which appeared in his son's form.

In the diocese of Mayence, there was a spirit that year which made itself manifest first of all by throwing stones, striking against the walls of a house, as if with strong blows of a mallet; then talking, and revealing unknown things; the authors of certain thefts, and other things fit to spread the spirit of discord among the neighbors. At last he directed his fury against one person in particular, whom he liked to persecute and render odious to all the neighborhood, proclaiming that he it was who excited the wrath of God against all the village. He pursued him in every place, without giving him the least moment of relaxation. He burnt all his harvest collected in his house, and set fire to all the places he entered.

The priests exorcised, said their prayers, dashed holy water about. The spirit threw stones at them, and wounded several persons. After the priests had withdrawn, they heard him bemoaning himself, and saying that he had hidden himself under the hood of a priest, whom he named, and accused of having seduced the daughter of a lawyer of the place. He continued these troublesome hauntings for three years, and did not leave off till he had burnt all the houses in the village.

Here follows an instance which bears connection with what is related of the ghosts of Hungary, who come to announce the death of their near relations. Evodius, Bishop of Upsala, in Africa, writes to St. Augustine, in 415,[479] that a young man whom he had with him, as a writer, or secretary, and who led a life of rare innocence and purity, having just died at the age of twenty-two, a virtuous widow saw in a dream a certain deacon who, with other servants of God, of both sexes, ornamented a palace which seemed to shine as if it were of silver. She asked who they were preparing it for, and they told her it was for a young man who died the day before. She afterwards beheld in the same palace an old man, clad in white, who commanded two persons to take this young man out of his tomb and lead him to heaven.

In the same house where this young man died, an aged man, half asleep, saw a man with a branch of laurel in his hand, upon which something was written.

Three days after the death of the young man, his father, who was a priest named Armenius, having retired to a monastery to console himself with the saintly old man, Theasus, Bishop of Manblosa, the deceased son appeared to a monk of this monastery, and told him that God had received him among the blessed, and that he had sent him to fetch his father. In effect, four days after, his father had a slight degree of fever, but it was so slight that the physician assured him there was nothing to fear. He nevertheless took to his bed, and at the same time, as he was yet speaking, he expired.

It was not of fright that he died, for it does not appear that he knew anything of what the monk had seen in his dream.

The same bishop, Evodius, relates that several persons had been seen after their death to go and come in their houses as during their lifetime, either in the night, or even in open day. "They say also," adds Evodius, "that in the places where bodies are interred, and especially in the churches, they often hear a noise at a certain hour of the night like persons praying aloud. I remember," continues Evodius, "having heard it said by several, and, amongst others, by a holy priest, who was witness to these apparitions, that they had seen coming out of the baptistry a great number of these spirits, with shining bodies of light, and had afterwards heard them pray in the middle of the church." The same Evodius says, moreover, that Profuturus, Privus, and Servilius, who had lived very piously in the monastery, had talked with himself since their death, and what they had told him had come to pass.

St. Augustine, after having related what Evodius said, acknowledges that a great distinction is to be made between true and false visions, and testifies that he could wish to have some sure means of justly discerning between them.

But who shall give us the knowledge necessary for such discerning, so difficult and yet so requisite, since we have not even any certain and demonstrative marks by which to discern infallibly between true and false miracles, or to distinguish the works of the Almighty from the illusions of the angel of darkness.

Footnotes:

[474] "Neu pransae lamiae vivum puerum ex trahat alvo." Horat. Art. Poet. 340.

[475] "Carpere dicuntur lactentia viscera rostris, Et plenum poco sanguine guttur habent, Est illis strigibus nomen."

[476] Capitul. Caroli Magni pro partibus Saxoniae, i. 6:—"Si quis a Diabolo deceptus crediderit secundum morem Paganorum, virum aliquem aut foeminam strigem esse, et homines comedere; et propter hoc ipsum incenderit, vel carnem ejus ad comedendum dederit, vel ipsam comederit capitis sententia puniatur."

[477] Le Loyer, des Spectres, lib. ii. p. 427.

[478] Mich. Glycas, part iv. Annal.

[479] Aug. Epist. 658, and Epist. 258, p. 361.



CHAPTER XVII.

OF GHOSTS IN THE NORTHERN COUNTRIES.

Thomas Bartholin, the son, in his treatise entitled "Of the Causes of the contempt of Death felt by the Ancient Danes while yet Gentiles," remarks[480] that a certain Hordus, an Icelander, saw spectres with his bodily eyes, fought against them and resisted them. These thoroughly believed that the spirits of the dead came back with their bodies, which they afterwards forsook and returned to their graves. Bartholinus relates in particular that a man named Asmond, son of Alfus, having had himself buried alive in the same sepulchre with his friend Asvitus, and having had victuals brought there, was taken out from thence some time after covered with blood, in consequence of a combat he had been obliged to maintain against Asvitus, who had haunted him and cruelly assaulted him.

He reports after that what the poets teach concerning the vocation of spirits by the power of magic, and of their return into bodies which are not decayed although a long time dead. He shows that the Jews have believed the same—that the souls came back from time to time to revisit their dead bodies during the first year after their decease. He demonstrates that the ancient northern nations were persuaded that persons recently deceased often made their bodily appearance; and he relates some examples of it: he adds that they attacked these dangerous spectres, which haunted and maltreated all who had any fields in the neighborhood of their tombs; that they cut off the head of a man named Gretter, who also returned to earth. At other times they thrust a stake through the body and thus fixed them to the ground.

"Nam ferro secui mox caput ejus, Perfodique nocens stipite corpus."

Formerly, they took the corpse from the tomb and reduced it to ashes; they did thus towards a spectre named Gardus, which they believed the author of all the fatal apparitions that had appeared during the winter.

Footnotes:

[480] Thomas Bartolin, de Causis Contemptus Mortis a Danis, lib. ii. c. 2.



CHAPTER XVIII.

GHOSTS IN ENGLAND.

William of Malmsbury says[481] that in England they believed that the wicked came back to earth after their death, and were brought back in their own bodies by the devil, who governed them and caused them to act; Nequam hominis cadaver post mortem daemone agente discurrere.

William of Newbridge, who flourished after the middle of the twelfth century, relates that in his time was seen in England, in the county of Buckingham, a man who appeared bodily, as when alive, three succeeding nights to his wife, and after that to his nearest relatives. They only defended themselves from his frightful visits by watching and making a noise when they perceived him coming. He even showed himself to a few persons in the day time. Upon that, the Bishop of Lincoln assembled his council, who told him that similar things had often happened in England, and that the only known remedy against this evil was to burn the body of the ghost. The bishop was averse to this opinion, which appeared cruel to him: he first of all wrote a schedule of absolution, which was placed on the body of the defunct, which was found in the same state as if he had been buried that very day; and from that time they heard no more of him.

The author of this narrative adds, that this sort of apparitions would appear incredible, if several instances had not occurred in his time, and if they did not know several persons who believed in them.

The same Newbridge says, in the following chapter, that a man who had been interred at Berwick, came out of his grave every night and caused great confusion in all the neighborhood. It was even said that he had boasted that he should not cease to disturb the living till they had reduced him to ashes. Then they selected ten bold and vigorous young men, who took him up out of the ground, cut his body to pieces, and placed it on a pile, whereon it was burned to ashes; but beforehand, some one amongst them having said that he could not be consumed by fire until they had torn out his heart, his side was pierced with a stake, and when they had taken out his heart through the opening, they set fire to the pile; he was consumed by the flames and appeared no more.

The pagans also believed that the bodies of the dead rested not, neither were they safe from magical evocations, so long as they remained unconsumed by fire, or undecayed underground.

"Tali tua membra sepulchro, Talibus exuram Stygio cum carmine Sylvis, Ut nullos cantata Magos exaudiat umbra,"

said an enchantress, in Lucan, to a spirit she evoked.

Footnotes:

[481] William of Malms. lib. ii. c. 4.



CHAPTER XIX.

GHOSTS IN PERU.

The instance we are about to relate occurred in Peru, in the country of the Ititans. A girl named Catharine died at the age of sixteen an unhappy death, and she had been guilty of several sacrilegious actions. Her body immediately after her decease was so putrid that they were obliged to put it out of the dwelling in the open air, to escape from the bad smell which exhaled from it. At the same time they heard as it were dogs howling; and a horse which before then was very gentle began to rear, to prance, strike the ground with its feet, and break its bonds; a young man who was in bed was pulled out of bed violently by the arm; a servant maid received a kick on the shoulder, of which she bore the marks for several days. All that happened before the body of Catharine was inhumed. Some time afterwards, several inhabitants of the place saw a great quantity of tiles and bricks thrown down with a great noise in the house where she died. The servant of the house was dragged about by the foot, without any one appearing to touch her, and that in the presence of her mistress and ten or twelve other women.

The same servant, on entering a room to fetch some clothes, perceived Catharine, who rose up to seize hold of an earthen pot; the girl ran away directly, but the spectre took the vase, dashed it against the wall, and broke it into a thousand pieces. The mistress, who ran thither on hearing the noise, saw that a quantity of bricks were thrown against the wall. The next day an image of the crucifix fixed against the wall was all on a sudden torn from its place in the presence of them all, and broken into three pieces.



CHAPTER XX.

GHOSTS IN LAPLAND.

Vestiges of these ghosts are still found in Lapland, where it is said they see a great number of spectres, who appear among those people, speak to them, and eat with them, without their being able to get rid of them; and as they are persuaded that these are the manes or shades of their relations who thus disturb them, they have no means of guarding against their intrusions more efficacious than to inter the bodies of their nearest relatives under the hearthstone, in order, apparently, that there they may be sooner consumed. In general, they believe that the manes, or spirits, which come out of bodies, or corpses, are usually malevolent till they have re-entered other bodies. They pay some respect to the spectres, or demons, which they believe roam about rocks, mountains, lakes, and rivers, much as in former times the Romans paid honor to the fauns, the gods of the woods, the nymphs, and the tritons.

Andrew Alciat[482] says that he was consulted concerning certain women whom the Inquisition had caused to be burnt as witches for having occasioned the death of some children by their spells, and for having threatened the mothers of other children to kill these also; and in fact they did die the following night of disorders unknown to the physicians. Here we again see those strigae, or witches, who delight in destroying children.

But all this relates to our subject very indirectly. The vampires of which we are discoursing are very different from all those just mentioned.

Footnotes:

[482] Andr. Alciat. Parergon Juris, viii. c. 22.



CHAPTER XXI.

REAPPEARANCE OF A MAN WHO HAD BEEN DEAD FOR SOME MONTHS.

Peter, the venerable[483] abbot of Clugni, relates the conversation which he had in the presence of the bishops of Oleron and of Osma, in Spain, together with several monks, with an old monk named Pierre d'Engelbert, who, after living a long time in his day in high reputation for valor and honor, had withdrawn from the world after the death of his wife, and entered the order of Clugni. Peter the Venerable having come to see him, Pierre d'Engelbert related to him that one day when in his bed and wide awake, he saw in his chamber, whilst the moon shone very brightly, a man named Sancho, whom he had several years before sent at his own expense to the assistance of Alphonso, king of Arragon, who was making war on Castile. Sancho had returned safe and sound from this expedition, but some time after he fell sick and died in his house.

Four months after his death, Sancho showed himself to Pierre d'Engelbert, as we have said. Sancho was naked, with the exception of a rag for mere decency round him. He began to uncover the burning wood, as if to warm himself, or that he might be more distinguishable. Peter asked him who he was. "I am," replied he, in a broken and hoarse voice, "Sancho, your servant." "And what do you come here for?" "I am going," said he, "into Castile, with a number of others, in order to expiate the harm we did during the last war, on the same spot where it was committed: for my own part, I pillaged the ornaments of a church, and for that I am condemned to take this journey. You can assist me very much by your good works; and madame, your spouse, who owes me yet eight sols for the remainder of my salary, will oblige me infinitely if she will bestow them on the poor in my name." Peter then asked him news of one Pierre de Fais, his friend, who had been dead a short time. Sancho told him that he was saved.

"And Bernier, our fellow-citizen, what is become of him?" "He is damned," said he, "for having badly performed his office of judge, and for having troubled and plundered the widow and the innocent."

Peter added, "Could you tell me any news of Alphonso, king of Arragon, who died a few years ago?"

Then another spectre, that Peter had not before seen, and which he now observed distinctly by the light of the moon, seated in the recess of the window, said to him—"Do not ask him for news of King Alphonso; he has not been with us long enough to know anything about him. I, who have been dead five years, can give you news of him. Alphonso was with us for some time, but the monks of Clugni extricated him from thence. I know not where he is now." Then, addressing himself to his companion, Sancho, "Come," said he, "let us follow our companions; it is time to set off." Sancho reiterated his entreaties to Peter, his lord, and went out of the house.

Peter waked his wife who was lying by him, and who had neither seen nor heard anything of all this dialogue, and asked her the question, "Do not you owe something to Sancho, that domestic who was in our service, and died a little while ago?" She answered, "I owe him still eight sols." From this, Peter had no more doubt of the truth of what Sancho had said to him, gave these eight sols to the poor, adding a large sum of his own, and caused masses and prayers to be said for the soul of the defunct. Peter was then in the world and married; but when he related this to Peter the Venerable, he was a monk of Clugni.

St. Augustine relates that Sylla,[484] on arriving at Tarentum, offered there sacrifices to the gods, that is to say, to the demons; and having observed on the upper part of the liver of the victim a sort of crown of gold, the aruspice assured him that this crown was the presage of a certain victory, and told him to eat alone that liver whereon he had seen the crown.

Almost at the same moment, a servitor of Lucius Pontius came to him and said, "Sylla, I am come from the goddess Bellona. The victory is yours; and as a proof of my prediction, I announce to you that, ere long, the capitol will be reduced to ashes." At the same time, this man left the camp in great haste, and on the morrow he returned with still more eagerness, and affirmed that the capitol had been burnt, which was found to be true.

St. Augustine had no doubt but that the demon who had caused the crown of gold to appear on the liver of the victim had inspired this diviner, and that the same bad spirit having foreseen the conflagration of the capitol had announced it after the event by that same man.

The same holy doctor relates,[485] after Julius Obsequens, in his Book of Prodigies, that in the open country of Campania, where some time after the Roman armies fought with such animosity during the civil war, they heard at first loud noises like soldiers fighting; and afterwards several persons affirmed that they had seen for some days two armies, who joined battle; after which they remarked in the same part as it were vestiges of the combatants, and the marks of horses' feet, as if the combat had really taken place there. St. Augustine doubts not that all this was the work of the devil, who wished to reassure mankind against the horrors of civil warfare, by making them believe that their gods being at war amongst themselves, mankind need not be more moderate, nor more touched by the evils which war brings with it.

The abbot of Ursperg, in his Chronicle, year 1123, says that in the territory of Worms they saw during many days a multitude of armed men, on foot and on horseback, going and coming with great noise, like people who are going to a solemn assembly. Every day they marched, towards the hour of noon, to a mountain, which appeared to be their place of rendezvous. Some one in the neighborhood bolder than the rest, having guarded himself with the sign of the cross, approached one of these armed men, conjuring him in the name of God to declare the meaning of this army, and their design. The soldier or phantom replied, "We are not what you imagine; we are neither vain phantoms, nor true soldiers; we are the spirits of those who were killed on this spot a long time ago. The arms and horses which you behold are the instruments of our punishment, as they were of our sins. We are all on fire, though you can see nothing about us which appears inflamed." It is said that they remarked in this company the Count Emico, who had been killed a few years before, and who declared that he might be extricated from that state by alms and prayers.

Trithemius, in his Annales Hirsauginses, year 1013,[486] asserts that there was seen in broad day, on a certain day in the year, an army of cavalry and infantry, which came down from a mountain and ranged themselves on a neighboring plain. They were spoken to and conjured to speak, and they declared themselves to be the spirits of those who a few years before had been killed, with arms in their hands, in that same spot.

The same Trithemius relates elsewhere[487] the apparition of the Count of Spanheim, deceased a little while before, who appeared in the fields with his pack of hounds. This count spoke to his cure, and asked his prayers.

Vipert, Archdeacon of the Church of Toul, cotemporary author of the Life of the holy Pope Leo IX., who died 1059, relates[488] that, some years before the death of this holy pope, an infinite multitude of persons, habited in white, was seen to pass by the town of Narni, advancing from the eastern side. This troop defiled from the morning until three in the afternoon, but towards evening it notably diminished. At this sight all the population of the town of Narni mounted upon the walls, fearing they might be hostile troops, and saw them defile with extreme surprise.

One burgher, more resolute than the others, went out of the town, and having observed in the crowd a man of his acquaintance, called to him by name, and asked him the meaning of this multitude of travelers: he replied, "We are spirits which not having yet expiated all our sins, and not being as yet sufficiently pure to enter the kingdom of heaven, we are going into holy places in a spirit of repentance; we are now coming from visiting the tomb of St. Martin, and we are going straight to Notre-Dame de Farse." The man was so frightened at this vision that he was ill for a twelvemonth—it was he who recounted the circumstance to Pope Leo IX. All the town of Narni was witness to this procession, which took place in broad day.

The night preceding the battle which was fought in Egypt between Mark Antony and Caesar,[489] whilst all the city of Alexandria was in extreme uneasiness in expectation of this action, they saw in the city what appeared a multitude of people, who shouted and howled like bacchanals, and they heard a confused sound of instruments in honor of Bacchus, as Mark Antony was accustomed to celebrate this kind of festivals. This troop, after having run through the greater part of the town, went out of it by the door leading to the enemy, and disappeared.

That is all which has come to my knowledge concerning the vampires and ghosts of Hungary, Moravia, Silesia, and Poland, and of the other ghosts of France and Germany. We will explain our opinion after this on the reality, and other circumstances of these sorts of revived and resuscitated beings. Here follows another species, which is not less marvelous—I mean the excommunicated, who leave the church and their graves with their bodies, and do not re-enter till after the sacrifice is completed.

Footnotes:

[483] Betrus Venerab. Abb. Cluniac. de miracul. lib. i. c. 28. p. 1293.

[484] Lib. ii. de Civ. Dei, cap. 24.

[485] Aug. lib. ii. de Civ. Dei, c. 25.

[486] Trith. Chron. Hirs. p. 155, ad an. 1013.

[487] Idem, tom. ii. Chron. Hirs. p. 227.

[488] Vita S. Leonis Papae.

[489] Plutarch, in Anton.



CHAPTER XXII.

EXCOMMUNICATED PERSONS WHO GO OUT OF THE CHURCHES.

St. Gregory the Great relates[490] that St. Benedict having threatened to excommunicate two nuns, these nuns died in that state. Some time after, their nurse saw them go out of the church, as soon as the deacon had cried out, "Let all those who do not receive the communion withdraw." The nurse having informed St. Benedict of the circumstance, that saint sent an oblation, or a loaf, in order that it might be offered for them in token of reconciliation; and from that time the two nuns remained in quiet in their sepulchres.

St. Augustine says[491] that the names of martyrs were recited in the diptychs not to pray for them, and the names of the virgin nuns deceased to pray for them. "Perhibet praeclarissimum testimonium ecclesiastica auctoritas, in qua fidelibus notum est quo loco martyres et que defunctae sanctimoniales ad altaris sacramenta recitantur." It was then, perhaps, when they were named at the altar, that they left the church. But St. Gregory says expressly, that it was when the deacon cried aloud, "Let those who do not receive the communion retire."

The same St. Gregory relates that a young priest of the same St. Benedict,[492] having gone out of his monastery without leave and without receiving the benediction of the abbot, died in his disobedience, and was interred in consecrated ground. The next day they found his body out of the grave: the relations gave notice of it to St. Benedict, who gave them a consecrated wafer, and told them to place it with proper respect on the breast of the young priest; it was placed there, and the earth no more rejected him from her bosom.

This usage, or rather this abuse, of placing the holy wafer in the grave with the dead, is very singular; but it was not unknown to antiquity. The author of the Life of St. Basil[493] the Great, given under the name of St. Amphilochus, says that that saint reserved the third part of a consecrated wafer to be interred with him; he received it and expired while it was yet in his mouth; but some councils had already condemned this practice, and others have since then proscribed it, as contrary to the institutions of Jesus Christ.[494]

Still, they did not omit in a few places putting holy wafers in the tombs or graves of some persons who were remarkable for their sanctity, as in the tomb of St. Othmar, abbot of St. Gal,[495] wherein were found under his head several round leaves, which were indubitably believed to be the Host.

In the Life of St. Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarn,[496] we read that a quantity of consecrated wafers were found on his breast. Amalarius cites of the Venerable Bede, that a holy wafer was placed on the breast of this saint before he was inhumed; "oblata super sanctum pectus posita."[497] This particularity is not noted in Bede's History, but in the second Life of St. Cuthbert. Amalarius remarks that this custom proceeds doubtless from the Church of Rome, which had communicated it to the English; and the Reverend Father Menard[498] maintains that it is not this practice which is condemned by the above-mentioned Councils, but that of giving the communion to the dead by insinuating the holy wafer into their mouths. However it may be regarding this practice, we know that Cardinal Humbert,[499] in his reply to the of the patriarch Michael Cerularius, reproves the Greeks for burying the Host, when there remained any of it after the communion of the faithful.

Footnotes:

[490] Greg. Magn. lib. ii. Dialog. c. 23.

[491] Aug. de St. Virgin. c. xlv. 364.

[492] Greg. lib. ii. Dialog. c. 34.

[493] Amphil. in Vit. S. Basilii.

[494] Vide Balsamon. ad Canon. 83. Concil. in Trullo, et Concil. Carthagin. III. c. 6. Hippon. c. 5. Antissiod. c. 12.

[495] Vit. S. Othmari, c. 3.

[496] Vit. S. Cuthberti, lib. iv. c. 2. apud Bolland. 26 Martii.

[497] Amalar. de Offic. Eccles. lib. iv. c. 41.

[498] Menard. not. in Sacrament. S. Greg. Magn. pp. 484, 485.

[499] Humbert. Card. Bibliot. P. P. lib. xviii. et tom. iv. Concil.



CHAPTER XXIII.

SOME OTHER INSTANCES OF EXCOMMUNICATED PERSONS BEING CAST OUT OF CONSECRATED GROUND.

We see again in history, several other examples of the dead bodies of excommunicated persons being cast out of consecrated earth; for instance, in the life of St. Gothard, Bishop of Hildesheim,[500] it is related that this saint having excommunicated certain persons for their rebellion and their sins, they did not cease, in spite of his excommunications, to enter the church, and remain there though forbidden by the saint, whilst even the dead, who had been interred there years since, and had been placed there without their sentence of excommunication being removed, obeyed him, arose from their tombs, and left the church. After mass, the saint, addressing himself to these rebels, reproached them for their hardness of heart, and told them those dead people would rise against them in the day of judgment. At the same time, going out of the church, he gave absolution to the excommunicated dead, and allowed them to re-enter it, and repose in their graves as before. The Life of St. Gothard was written by one of his disciples, a canon of his cathedral; and this saint died on the 4th of May, 938.

In the second Council, held at Limoges,[501] in 1031, at which a great many bishops, abbots, priests and deacons were present, they reported the instances which we had just cited from St. Benedict, to show the respect in which sentences of excommunication, pronounced by ecclesiastical superiors, were held. Then the Bishop of Cahors, who was present, related a circumstance which had happened to him a short time before. "A cavalier of my diocese, having been killed in excommunication, I would not accede to the prayers of his friends, who implored to grant him absolution; I desired to make an example of him, in order to inspire others with fear. But he was interred by soldiers or gentlemen (milites) without my permission, without the presence of the priests, in a church dedicated to St. Peter. The next morning his body was found out of the ground, and thrown naked far from the spot; his grave remaining entire, and without any sign of having been touched. The soldiers or gentlemen (milites) who had interred him, having opened the grave, found in it only the linen in which he had been wrapped; they buried him again, and covered him with an enormous quantity of earth and stones. The next day they found the corpse outside the tomb, without its appearing that any one had worked at it. The same thing happened five times; at last they buried him as they could, at a distance from the cemetery, in unconsecrated ground; which filled the neighboring seigneurs with so much terror that they all came to me to make their peace. That is a fact, invested with everything which can render it incontestable."

Footnotes:

[500] Vit. S. Gothardi, Saecul. vi. Bened. parte c. p. 434.

[501] Tom. ix. Concil. an 1031, p. 702.



CHAPTER XXIV.

AN INSTANCE OF AN EXCOMMUNICATED MARTYR BEING CAST OUT OF THE EARTH.

We read in the menees of the Greeks, on the 15th of October, that a monk of the Desert of Sheti, having been excommunicated by him who had the care of his conduct, for some act of disobedience, he left the desert, and came to Alexandria, where he was arrested by the governor of the city, despoiled of his conventual habit, and ardently solicited to sacrifice to false gods. The solitary resisted nobly, and was tormented in various ways, until at last they cut off his head, and threw his body outside of the city, to be devoured by dogs. The Christians took it away in the night, and having embalmed it and enveloped it in fine linen, they interred it in the church as a martyr, in an honorable place; but during the holy sacrifice, the deacon having cried aloud, as usual, that the catechumens and those who did not take the communion were to withdraw, they suddenly beheld the martyr's tomb open of itself, and his body retire into the vestibule of the church; after the mass, it returned to its sepulchre.

A pious person having prayed for three days, learnt by the voice of an angel that this monk had incurred excommunication for having disobeyed his superior, and that he would remain bound until that same superior had given him absolution. Then they went to the desert directly, and brought the saintly old man, who caused the coffin of the martyr to be opened, and absolved him, after which he remained in peace in his tomb.

This instance appears to me rather suspicious. 1. In the time that the Desert of Sheti was peopled with solitary monks, there were no longer any persecutors at Alexandria. They troubled no one there, either concerning the profession of Christianity, or on the religious profession—they would sooner have persecuted these idolators and pagans. The Christian religion was then dominant and respected throughout all Egypt, above all, in Alexandria. 2. The monks of Sheti were rather hermits than cenobites, and a monk had no authority there to excommunicate his brother. 3. It does not appear that the monk in question had deserved excommunication, at least major excommunication, which deprives the faithful of the entry of the church, and the participation of the holy mysteries. The bearing of the Greek text is simply, that he remained obedient for some time to his spiritual father, but that having afterwards fallen into disobedience, he withdrew from the hands of the old man without any legitimate cause, and went away to Alexandria. All that deserves doubtlessly even major excommunication, if this monk had quitted his profession and retired from the monastery to lead a secular life; but at that time the monks were not, as now, bound by vows of stability and obedience to their regular superiors, who had not a right to excommunicate them with grand excommunication. We will speak of this again by-and-by.



CHAPTER XXV.

A MAN REJECTED FROM THE CHURCH FOR HAVING REFUSED TO PAY TITHES.

John Brompton, Abbot of Sornat in England,[502] says that we may read in very old histories that St. Augustin, the Apostle of England, wishing to persuade a gentleman to pay the tithes, God permitted that this saint having said before all the people, before the commencement of the mass, that no excommunicated person should assist at the holy sacrifice, they saw a man who had been interred for 150 years leave the church.

After mass, St. Augustin, preceded by the cross, went to ask this dead man why he went out? The dead man replied that it was because he had died in a state of excommunication. The saint asked him, where was the sepulchre of the priest who had pronounced against him the sentence of excommunication? They went thither; St. Augustin commanded him to rise; he came to life, and avowed that he had excommunicated the man for his crimes, and particularly for his obstinacy in refusing to pay tithes; then, by order of St. Augustin, he gave him absolution, and the dead man returned to his tomb. The priest entreated the saint to permit him also to return to his sepulchre, which was granted him. This story appears to me still more suspicious than the preceding one. In the time of St. Augustin, the Apostle of England, there was no obligation as yet to pay tithes on pain of excommunication, and much less a hundred and fifty years before that time—above all in England.

Footnotes:

[502] John Brompton, Chronic. vide ex Bolland. 26 Maii, p. 396.



CHAPTER XXVI.

INSTANCES OF PERSONS WHO HAVE SHOWN SIGNS OF LIFE AFTER THEIR DEATH, AND WHO HAVE DRAWN BACK FROM RESPECT, TO MAKE ROOM OR GIVE PLACE TO SOME WHO WERE MORE WORTHY THAN THEMSELVES.

Tertullian relates[503] an instance to which he had been witness—de meo didici. A woman who belonged to the church, to which she had been given as a slave, died in the prime of life, after being once married only, and that for a short time, was brought to the church. Before putting her in the ground, the priest offering the sacrifice and raising his hands in prayer, this woman, who had her hands extended at her side, raised them at the same time, and put them together as a supplicant; then, when the peace was given, she replaced herself in her former position.

Tertullian adds that another body, dead, and buried in a cemetery, withdrew on one side to give place to another corpse which they were about to inter near it. He relates these instances as a suite to what was said by Plato and Democritus, that souls remained some time near the dead bodies they had inhabited, which they preserved sometimes from corruption, and often caused their hair, beard, and nails to grow in their graves. Tertullian does not approve of the opinion of these; he even refutes them pretty well; but he owns that the instances I have just spoken of are favorable enough to that opinion, which is also that of the Hebrews, as we have before seen.

It is said that after the death of the celebrated Abelard,[504] who was interred at the Monastery of the Paraclete, the Abbess Heloisa, his spouse, being also deceased, and having requested to be buried in the same grave, at her approach Abelard extended his arms and received her into his bosom: elevatis brachiis illam recepit, et ita eam amplexatus brachia sua strinxit. This circumstance is certainly neither proved nor probable; the Chronicle whence it is extracted had probably taken it from some popular rumor.

The author of the Life of St. John the Almoner,[505] which was written immediately after his death by Leontius, Bishop of Naples, a town in the Isle of Cyprus, relates that St. John the Almoner being dead at Amatunta, in the same island, his body was placed between that of two bishops, who drew back on each side respectfully to make room for him in sight of all present; non unus, neque decem, neque centum viderunt, sed omnis turba, quae convenit ad ejus sepulturam, says the author cited. Metaphrastes, who had read the life of the saint in Greek, repeats the same fact.

Evagrius de Pont[506] says, that a holy hermit named Thomas, and surnamed Salus, because he counterfeited madness, dying in the hospital of Daphne, near the city of Antioch, was buried in the strangers' cemetery, but every day he was found out of the ground at a distance from the other dead bodies, which he avoided. The inhabitants of the place informed Ephraim, Bishop of Antioch, of this, and he had him solemnly carried into the city and honorably buried in the cemetery, and from that time the people of Antioch keep the feast of his translation.

John Mosch[507] reports the same story, only he says that it was some women who were buried near Thomas Salus, who left their graves through respect for the saint.

The Hebrews ridiculously believe that the Jews who are buried without Judea will roll underground at the last day, to repair to the Promised Land, as they cannot come to life again elsewhere than in Judea.

The Persians recognize also a transporting angel, whose care it is to assign to dead bodies the place and rank due to their merits: if a worthy man is buried in an infidel country, the transporting angel leads him underground to a spot near one of the faithful, while he casts into the sewer the body of any infidel interred in holy ground. Other Mahometans have the same notion; they believe that the transporting angel placed the body of Noah, and afterwards that of Ali, in the grave of Adam. I relate these fantastical ideas only to show their absurdity. As to the other stories related in this same chapter, they must not be accepted without examination, for they require confirmation.

Footnotes:

[503] Tertull. de Animo, c. 5. p. 597. Edit. Pamelii.

[504] Chronic. Turon. inter opera Abaelardi, p. 1195.

[505] Bolland. tom. ii. p. 315, 13 Januar.

[506] Evagrius Pont. lib. iv. c. 53.

[507] Jean Mosch. pras. spirit. c. 88.



CHAPTER XXVII.

OF PERSONS WHO PERFORM A PILGRIMAGE AFTER THEIR DEATH.

A scholar of the town of Saint Pons, near Narbonne,[508] having died in a state of excommunication, appeared to one of his friends, and begged of him to go to the city of Rhodes, and ask the bishop to grant him absolution. He set off in snowy weather; the spirit, who accompanied him without being seen by him showed him the road and cleared away the snow. On arriving at Rhodes, he asked and obtained for his friend the required absolution, when the spirit reconducted him to Saint Pons, gave him thanks for this service, and took leave, promising to testify to him his gratitude.

Here follows a letter written to me on the 5th of April, 1745, and which somewhat relates to what we have just seen. "Something has occurred here within the last few days, relatively to your Dissertation upon Ghosts, which I think I ought to inform you of. A man of Letrage, a village a few miles from Remiremont, lost his wife at the beginning of February last, and married again the week before Lent. At eleven o'clock in the evening of his wedding-day, his wife appeared and spoke to his new spouse; the result of the conversation was to oblige the bride to perform seven pilgrimages for the defunct. From that day, and always at the same hour, the defunct appeared, and spoke in presence of the cure of the place and several other persons; on the 15th of March, at the moment that the bride was preparing to repair to St. Nicholas, she had a visit from the defunct, who told her to make haste, and not to be alarmed at any pain or trouble which she might undergo on her journey.

This woman with her husband and her brother and sister-in-law, set off on their way, not expecting that the dead wife would be of the party; but she never left them until they were at the door of the Church of St. Nicholas. These good people, when they were arrived at two leagues' distance from St. Nicholas, were obliged to put up at a little inn called the Barracks. There the wife found herself so ill, that the two men were obliged to carry her to the burgh of St. Nicholas. Directly she was under the church porch, she walked easily, and felt no more pain. This fact has been reported to me by the sacristan and the four persons. The last thing that the defunct said to the bride was, that she should neither speak to nor appear to her again until half the pilgrimages should be accomplished. The simple and natural manner in which these good people related this fact to us makes me believe that it is certain.

It is not said that this young woman had incurred excommunication, but apparently she was bound by a vow or promise which she had made, to accomplish these pilgrimages, which she imposed upon the other young wife who succeeded her. Also, we see that she did not enter the Church of St. Nicholas; she only accompanied the pilgrims to the church door.

We may here add the instance of that crowd of pilgrims who, in the time of Pope Leo IX., passed at the foot of the wall of Narne, as I have before related, and who performed their purgatory by going from pilgrimage to pilgrimage.

Footnotes:

[508] Melchior. lib. de Statu Mortuorum.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

ARGUMENT CONCERNING THE EXCOMMUNICATED WHO QUIT CHURCHES.

All that we have just reported concerning the bodies of persons who had been excommunicated leaving their tombs during mass, and returning into them after the service, deserves particular attention.

It seems that a thing which passed before the eyes of a whole population in broad day, and in the midst of the most redoubtable mysteries, can be neither denied nor disputed. Nevertheless, it may be asked, How these bodies came out? Were they whole, or in a state of decay? naked, or clad in their own dress, or in the linen and bandages which had enveloped them in the tomb? Where, also, did they go?

The cause of their forthcoming is well noted; it was the major excommunication. This penalty is decreed only to mortal sin.[509] Those persons had, then, died in the career of deadly sin, and were consequently condemned and in hell; for if there is naught in question but a minor excommunication, why should they go out of the church after death with such terrible and extraordinary circumstances, since that ecclesiastical excommunication does not deprive one absolutely of communion with the faithful, or of entrance to church?

If it be said that the crime was remitted, but not the penalty of excommunication, and that these persons remained excluded from church communion until after their absolution, given by the ecclesiastical judge, we ask if a dead man can be absolved and be restored to communion with the church, unless there are unequivocal proofs of his repentance and conversion preceding his death.

Moreover, the persons just cited as instances do not appear to have been released from crime or guilt, as might be supposed. The texts which we have cited sufficiently note that they died in their guilt and sins; and what St. Gregory the Great says in the part of his Dialogues there quoted, replying to his interlocutor, Peter, supposes that these nuns had died without doing penance.

Besides, it is a constant rule of the church that we cannot communicate or have communion with a dead man, whom we have not had any communication with during his lifetime. "Quibus viventibus non communicavimus, mortuis, communicare non possumus," says Pope St. Leo.[510] At any rate, it is allowed that an excommunicated person who has given signs of sincere repentance, although there may not have been time for him to confess himself, can be reconciled to the church[511] and receive ecclesiastical sepulture after his death. But, in general, before receiving absolution from sin, they must have been absolved from the censures and excommunication, if such have been incurred: "Absolutio ab excommunicatione debet praecedere absolutionem a peccatis; quia quandiu aliquis est excommunicatus, non potest recipere aliquod Ecclesiae Sacramentum," says St. Thomas.[512]

Following this decision, it would have been necessary to absolve these persons from their excommunication, before they could receive absolution from the guilt of their sins. Here, on the contrary, they are supposed to be absolved from their sins as to their criminality, in order to be able to receive absolution from the censures of the church.

I do not see how these difficulties can be resolved.

1. How can you absolve the dead? 2. How can you absolve him from excommunication before he has received absolution from sin? 3. How can he be absolved without asking for absolution, or its appearing that he hath requested it? 4. How can people be absolved who died in mortal sin, and without doing penance? 5. Why do these excommunicated persons return to their tombs after mass? 6. If they dared not stay in the church during the mass, when were they?

It appears certain that the nuns and the young monk spoken of by St. Gregory died in their sins, and without having received absolution from them. St. Benedict, probably, was not a priest, and had not absolved them as regards their guilt.

It may be said that the excommunication spoken of by St. Gregory was not major, and in that case the holy abbot could absolve them; but would this minor and regular excommunication deserve that they should quit the church in so miraculous and public a manner? The persons excommunicated by St. Gothard, and the gentleman mentioned at the Council of Limoges, in 1031, had died unrepentant, and under sentence of excommunication; consequently in mortal sin; and yet they are granted peace and absolution after their death, at the simple entreaty of their friends.

The young solitary spoken of in the acta sanctorum of the Greeks, who after having quitted his cell through incontinency and disobedience, had incurred excommunication, could he receive the crown of martyrdom in that state? And if he had received it, was he not at the same time reconciled to the church? Did he not wash away his fault with his blood? And if his excommunication was only regular and minor, would he deserve after his martyrdom to be excluded from the presence of the holy mysteries?

I see no other way of explaining these facts, if they are as they are related, than by saying that the story has not preserved the circumstances which might have deserved the absolution of these persons, and we must presume that the saints—above all, the bishops who absolved them—knew the rules of the church, and did nothing in the matter but what was right and conformable to the canons.

But it results from all that we have just said, that as the bodies of the wicked withdraw from the company of the holy through a principle of veneration and a feeling of their own unworthiness, so also the bodies of the holy separate themselves from the wicked, from opposite motives, that they may not appear to have any connection with them, even after death, or to approve of their bad life. In short, if what is just related be true, the righteous and the saints feel deference for one another, and honor each other ever in the other world; which is probable enough.

We are about to see some instances which seem to render equivocal and uncertain, as a proof of sanctity, the uncorrupted state of the body of a just man, since it is maintained that the bodies of the excommunicated do not rot in the earth until the sentence of excommunication pronounced against them be taken off.

Footnotes:

[509] Concil. Meli. in Can. Nemo. 41, n. 43. D. Thom. iv. distinct. 18, 9. 2, art. 1. quaestiuncula in corpore, &c.

[510] S. Leo canone Commun. 1. a. 4. 9. 2. See also Clemens III. in Capit. Sacris, 12. de Sepult. Eccl.

[511] Eveillon, traite des Excommunicat. et Manitoires.

[512] D. Thom. in iv. Sentent. dist. 1. qu. 1. art. 3. quaestiunc. 2. ad. 2.



CHAPTER XXIX.

DO THE EXCOMMUNICATED ROT IN THE GROUND?

It is a very ancient opinion that the bodies of the excommunicated do not decompose; it appears in the Life of St Libentius, Archbishop of Bremen, who died on the 4th of January, 1013. That holy prelate having excommunicated some pirates, one of them died, and was buried in Norway; at the end of seventy years they found his body entire and without decay, nor did it fall to dust until after absolution received from Archbishop Alvaridius.

The modern Greeks, to authorize their schism, and to prove that the gift of miracles, and the power of binding and unbinding, subsist in their church even more visibly and more certainly than in the Latin and Roman church, maintain that amongst themselves the bodies of those who are excommunicated do not decay, but become swollen extraordinarily, like drums, and can neither be corrupted nor reduced to ashes till after they have received absolution from their bishops or their priests. They relate divers instances of this kind of dead bodies, found uncorrupted in their graves, and which are afterwards reduced to ashes as soon as the excommunication is taken off. They do not deny, however, that the uncorrupted state of a body is sometimes a mark of sanctity,[513] but they require that a body thus preserved should exhale a good smell, be white or reddish, and not black, offensive and swollen.

It is affirmed that persons who have been struck dead by lightning do not decay, and for that reason the ancients neither burnt them nor buried them. That is the opinion of the physician Zachias; but Pare, after Comines, thinks that the reason they are not subject to corruption is because they are, as it were, embalmed by the sulphur of the thunderbolt, which serves them instead of salt.

In 1727, they discovered in the vault of an hospital near Quebec the unimpaired corpses of five nuns, who had been dead for more than twenty years; and these corpses, though covered with quicklime, still contained blood.

Footnotes:

[513] Goar, not. in Eucholog. p. 688.



CHAPTER XXX.

INSTANCES TO DEMONSTRATE THAT THE EXCOMMUNICATED DO NOT DECAY, AND THAT THEY APPEAR TO THE LIVING.

The Greeks relate[514] that under the Patriarch of Constantinople Manuel, or Maximus, who lived in the fifteenth century, the Turkish Emperor of Constantinople wished to know the truth of what the Greeks asserted concerning the uncorrupted state of those who died under sentence of excommunication. The patriarch caused the tomb of a woman to be opened; she had had a criminal connection with an archbishop of Constantinople; her body was whole, black, and much swollen. The Turks shut it up in a coffin, sealed with the emperor's seal; the patriarch said his prayer, gave absolution to the dead woman, and at the end of three days the coffin or box being opened they found the body fallen to dust.

I see no miracle in this: everybody knows that bodies which are sometimes found quite whole in their tombs fall to dust as soon as they are exposed to the air. I except those which have been well embalmed, as the mummies of Egypt, and bodies which are buried in extremely dry spots, or in an earth replete with nitre and salt, which dissipate in a short time all the moisture there may be in the dead bodies, either of men or animals; but I do not understand that the Archbishop of Constantinople could validly absolve after death a person who died in deadly sin and bound by excommunication. They believe also that the bodies of these excommunicated persons often appear to the living, whether by day or by night, speaking to them, calling them, and molesting them. Leon Allatius enters into long details on this subject; he says that in the Isle of Chio the inhabitants do not answer to the first voice that calls them, for fear that it should be a spirit or ghost; but if they are called twice, it is not a vroucolaca,[515] which is the name they give those spectres. If any one answers to them at the first sound, the spectre disappears; but he who has spoken to it infallibly dies.

There is no other way of guarding against these bad genii than by taking up the corpse of the person who has appeared, and burning it after certain prayers have been recited over it; then the body is reduced to ashes, and appears no more. They have then no doubt that these are the bodies of criminal and malevolent men, which come out of their graves and cause the death of those who see and reply to them; or that it is the demon, who makes use of their bodies to frighten mortals, and cause their death.

They know of no means more certain to deliver themselves from being infested by these dangerous apparitions than to burn and hack to pieces these bodies, which served as instruments of malice, or to tear out their hearts, or to let them putrefy before they are buried, or to cut off their heads, or to pierce their temples with a large nail.

Footnotes:

[514] Vide Malva. lib. i. Turco-graecia, pp. 26, 27.

[515] Vide Bolland. mense Augusto, tom. ii. pp. 201-203, et Allat. Epist. ad Zachiam, p. 12.



CHAPTER XXXI.

INSTANCE OF THE REAPPEARANCES OF THE EXCOMMUNICATED.

Ricaut, in the history he has given us of the present state of the Greek church, acknowledges that this opinion, that the bodies of excommunicated persons do not decay, is general, not only among the Greeks of the present day, but also among the Turks. He relates a fact which he heard from a Candiote caloyer, who had affirmed the thing to him on oath; his name was Sophronius, and he was well known and highly respected at Smyrna. A man who died in the Isle of Milo, had been excommunicated for some fault which he had committed in the Morea, and he was interred without any funeral ceremony in a spot apart, and not in consecrated ground. His relations and friends were deeply moved to see him in this plight; and the inhabitants of the isle were every night alarmed by baneful apparitions, which they attributed to this unfortunate man.

They opened his grave, and found his body quite entire, with the veins swollen with blood. After having deliberated upon it, the caloyers were of opinion that they should dismember the body, hack it to pieces, and boil it in wine; for it is thus they treat the bodies of revenans.

But the relations of the dead man, by dint of entreaties, succeeded in deferring this execution, and in the mean time sent in all haste to Constantinople, to obtain the absolution of the young man from the patriarch. Meanwhile, the body was placed in the church, and every day prayers were offered up for the repose of his soul. One day when the caloyer Sophronius, above mentioned, was performing divine service, all on a sudden a great noise was heard in the coffin; they opened it, and found his body decayed as if he had been dead seven years. They observed the moment when the noise was heard, and it was found to be precisely at that hour that his absolution had been signed by the patriarch.

M. le Chevalier Ricaut, from whom we have this narrative, was neither a Greek, nor a Roman Catholic, but a staunch Anglican; he remarks on this occasion that the Greeks believe that an evil spirit enters the bodies of the excommunicated, and preserves them from putrefaction, by animating them, and causing them to act, nearly as the soul animates and inspires the body.

They imagine, moreover, that these corpses eat during the night, walk about, digest what they have eaten, and really nourish themselves—that some have been found who were of a rosy hue, and had their veins still fully replete with the quantity of blood; and although they had been dead forty days, have ejected, when opened, a stream of blood as bubbling and fresh as that of a young man of sanguine temperament would be; and this belief so generally prevails that every one relates facts circumstantially concerning it.

Father Theophilus Reynard, who has written a particular treatise on this subject, maintains that this return of the dead is an indubitable fact, and that there are very certain proofs and experience of the same; but that to pretend that those ghosts who come to disturb the living are always those of excommunicated persons, and that it is a privilege of the schismatic Greek church to preserve from decay those who incurred excommunication, and have died under censure of their church, is an untenable assumption; since it is certain that the bodies of the excommunicated decay like others, and there are some which have died in communion with the church, whether the Greek or the Latin, who remain uncorrupted. Such are found even among the Pagans, and amongst animals, of which the dead bodies are sometimes found in an uncorrupted state, both in the ground, and in the ruins of old buildings.[516]

Footnotes:

[516] See, concerning the bodies of the excommunicated which are affirmed to be exempt from decay, Father Goar, Ritual of the Greeks, pp. 687, 688; Matthew Paris, History of England, tom. ii. p. 687; Adam de Breme, c. lxxv.; Albert de Stade, on the year 1050, and Monsieur du Cange, Glossar. Latinit. at the word imblocatus.



CHAPTER XXXII.

VROUCOLACA EXHUMED IN PRESENCE OF MONSIEUR DE TOURNEFORT.

Monsieur Pitton de Tournefort relates the manner in which they exhumed a pretended vroucolaca, in the Isle of Micon, where he was on the 1st of January, 1701. These are his own words: "We saw a very different scene, (in the same Isle of Micon,) on the occasion of one of those dead people, whom they believe to return to earth after their interment. This one, whose history we shall relate, was a peasant of Micon, naturally sullen and quarrelsome; which is a circumstance to be remarked relatively to such subjects; he was killed in the country, no one knows when, or by whom. Two days after he had been inhumed in a chapel in the town, it was rumored that he was seen by night walking very fast; that he came into the house, overturning the furniture, extinguishing the lamps, throwing his arms around persons from behind, and playing a thousand sly tricks.

"At first people only laughed at it; but the affair began to be serious, when the most respectable people in the place began to complain: the priests even owned the fact, and doubtless they had their reasons. People did not fail to have masses said; nevertheless the peasant continued to lead the same life without correcting himself. After several assemblies of the principal men of the city, with priests and monks, it was concluded that they must, according to some ancient ceremonial, await the expiration of nine days after burial.

"On the tenth day a mass was said in the chapel where the corpse lay, in order to expel the demon which they believed to have inclosed himself therein. This body was taken up after mass, and they began to set about tearing out his heart; the butcher of the town, who was old, and very awkward, began by opening the belly instead of the breast; he felt for a long time in the entrails without finding what he sought. At last some one told him that he must pierce the diaphragm; then the heart was torn out, to the admiration of all present. The corpse, however, gave out such a bad smell, that they were obliged to burn incense; but the vapor, mixed with the exhalations of the carrion, only augmented the stink, and began to heat the brain of these poor people.

"Their imagination, struck with the spectacle, was full of visions; some one thought proper to say that a thick smoke came from this body. We dared not say that it was the vapor of the incense. They only exclaimed "Vroucolacas," in the chapel, and in the square before it. (This is the name which they give to these pretended Revenans.) The rumor spread and was bellowed in the street, and the noise seemed likely to shake the vaulted roof of the chapel. Several present affirmed that the blood of this wretched man was quite vermilion; the butcher swore that the body was still quite warm; whence it was concluded that the dead man was very wrong not to be quite dead, or, to express myself better, to suffer himself to be reanimated by the devil. This is precisely the idea of a vroucolaca; and they made this name resound in an astonishing manner. At this time there entered a crowd of people, who protested aloud that they clearly perceived this body was not stiff when they brought it from the country to the church to bury it, and that consequently it was a true vroucolaca; this was the chorus.

"I have no doubt that they would have maintained it did not stink, if we had not been present; so stupefied were these poor people with the circumstance, and infatuated with the idea of the return of the dead. For ourselves, who got next to the corpse in order to make our observations exactly, we were ready to die from the offensive odor which proceeded from it. When they asked us what we thought of this dead man, we replied that we believed him thoroughly dead; but as we wished to cure, or at least not to irritate their stricken fancy, we represented to them that it was not surprising if the butcher had perceived some heat in searching amidst entrails which were decaying; neither was it extraordinary that some vapor had proceeded from them; since such will issue from a dunghill that is stirred up; as for this pretended red blood, it still might be seen on the butcher's hands that it was only a very foetid mud.

"After all these arguments, they bethought themselves of going to the marine, and burning the heart of the dead man, who in spite of this execution was less docile, and made more noise than before. They accused him of beating people by night, of breaking open the doors and even terraces, of breaking windows, tearing clothes, and emptying jugs and bottles. He was a very thirsty dead man; I believe he only spared the consul's house, where I was lodged. In the mean time I never saw anything so pitiable as the state of this island.

"Everybody seemed to have lost their senses. The most sensible people appeared as phrenzied as the others; it was a veritable brain fever, as dangerous as any mania or madness. Whole families were seen to forsake their houses, and coming from the ends of the town, bring their flock beds to the market-place to pass the night there. Every one complained of some new insult; you heard nothing but lamentations at night-fall; and the most sensible people went into the country.

"Amidst such a general prepossession we made up our minds to say nothing; we should not only have been considered as absurd, but as infidels. How can you convince a whole people of error? Those who believed in their own minds that we had our doubts of the truth of the fact, came and reproached us for our incredulity, and pretended to prove that there were such things as vroucolacas, by some authority which they derived from Father Richard, a Jesuit missionary. It is Latin, said they, and consequently you ought to believe it. We should have done no good by denying this consequence. They every morning entertained us with the comedy of a faithful recital of all the new follies which had been committed by this bird of night; he was even accused of having committed the most abominable sins.

"The citizens who were most zealous for the public good believed that they had missed the most essential point of the ceremony. They said that the mass ought not to be celebrated until after the heart of this wretched man had been torn out; they affirmed that with that precaution they could not have failed to surprise the devil, and doubtless he would have taken care not to come back again; instead of which had they begun by saying mass, he would have had, said they, plenty of time to take flight, and to return afterwards at his leisure.

"After all these arguments they found themselves in the same embarrassment as the first day it began; they assembled night and morning; they reasoned upon it, made processions which lasted three days and three nights; they obliged the priests to fast; they were seen running about in the houses with the asperser or sprinkling brush in their hands, sprinkling holy water and washing the doors with it; they even filled the mouth of that poor vroucolaca with holy water. We so often told the administration of the town that in all Christendom people would not fail in such a case to watch by night, to observe all that was going forward in the town, that at last they arrested some vagabonds, who assuredly had a share in all these disturbances. Apparently they were not the principal authors of them, or they were too soon set at liberty; for two days after, to make themselves amends for the fast they had kept in prison, they began again to empty the stone bottles of wine belonging to those persons who were silly enough to forsake their houses at night. Thus, then, they were again obliged to have recourse to prayers.

"One day as certain orisons were being recited, after having stuck I know not how many naked swords upon the grave of this corpse, which was disinterred three or four times a day, according to the caprice of the first comer, an Albanian, who chanced to be at Mico accidentally, bethought himself of saying in a sententious tone, that it was very ridiculous to make use of the swords of Christians in such a case. Do you not see, blind as ye are, said he, that the hilt of these swords, forming a cross with the handle, prevents the devil from coming out of that body? why do you not rather make use of the sabres of the Turks? The advice of this clever man was of no use; the vroucolaca did not appear more tractable, and everybody was in a strange consternation; they no longer knew to which saint to pay their vows; when, with one voice, as if the signal word had been given, they began to shout in all parts of the town that they had waited too long: that the vroucolaca ought to be burnt altogether; that after that, they would defy the devil to return and ensconce himself there; that it would be better to have recourse to that extremity than to let the island be deserted. In fact, there were whole families who were packing up in the intention of retiring to Sira or Tina.

"So they carried the vroucolaca, by order of the administration, to the point of the Island of St. George, where they had prepared a great pile made up with a mixture of tow, for fear that wood, however dry it might be, would not burn quickly enough by itself. The remains of this unfortunate corpse were thrown upon it and consumed in a very little time; it was on the first day of January, 1701. We saw this fire as we returned from Delos: it might be called a real feu de joie; since then, there have been no more complaints against the vroucolaca. They contented themselves with saying that the devil had been properly caught that time, and they made up a song to turn him into ridicule.

"Throughout the Archipelago, the people are persuaded that it is only the Greeks of the Greek church whose corpses are reanimated by the devil. The inhabitants of the Isle of Santorin have great apprehensions of these bugbears; those of Maco, after their visions were dissipated, felt an equal fear of being punished by the Turks and by the Bishop of Tina. None of the papas would be present at St. George when this body was burned, lest the bishop should exact a sum of money for having disinterred and burned the dead body without his permission. As for the Turks, it is certain that at their first visit they did not fail to make the community of Maco pay the price of the blood of this poor devil, who in every way became the abomination and horror of his country. After this, must we not own that the Greeks of to-day are not great Greeks, and that there is only ignorance and superstition among them?"[517]

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